I see there's a special called meeting tonight of the Dallas Independent School District school board, where there's a single item on the agenda: "Discussion of Options to Deal with Excess Chapter 21 Employees." And what are Chapter 21 employees? They're the folks under contract with the district -- teachers, principals, librarians and counselors, chief among them. And right now, according to district spokesman Jon Dahlander, there are some 200 of them presently without positions in the DISD following the gutting that took place before the school year, which, thanks to the state, saw $67 million erased from the budget. Which is only the beginning: Next year, another $37 million will go away.
But despite the options set to be discussed at 6 this evening, it would appear the board already knows what it wants to do: At the bottom of Thursday's board meeting agenda is an item that reads, "Consider and Take Possible Action to Approve a Resignation Incentive, Not to Exceed $3,000,000 for Excess Chapter 21 Contract Educators if They Notify the District, in Writing, by November 1, 2011, of Resignation Effective January 31, 2012." Which is exactly what it sounds like: Following February's buyout offers, the district's offering yet another financial incentive to contracted employees willing to walk away.
Right now, Dahlander says, those still under contract but without proper positions are still reporting to their former campuses, where a principal might assign them a task if available -- anything from substitute teacher to teaching assistant to hall monitor. But the board would clearly like to stop paying them altogether, especially given the millions in cuts still forthcoming.
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"This is a unique year, because we had to change class-size ratio at the secondary level to deal with the budget," Dahlander says. "And these contract employees, for whateve reason, have not been able to be placed."